When you finally take a well-deserved vacation, you do not want any injury or illness to spoil your pleasure. Away from home, small health concerns can turn into big problems. Properly stuffing your first aid kit is essential.

Before you go on a trip

Before you go on a trip, first go to the Travel and Tourism website, a Canadian government site https://travel.gc.ca that offers specific tips for each country. It includes a list of possible health risks, the vaccines you should receive, and even a list of items you should pack. Do not be fooled by these 10 dangerous myths about immunization.

If you have health problems, talk to your doctor a few weeks before you travel and ask for advice on medications to take with you in your first aid kit. He will give you clear and precise advice and prescribe all the necessary medications.

Prescription drugs to be brought on a trip

If you need to carry prescription drugs, take them in their original containers so you can see at a glance what they contain. You will avoid delays (or even confiscation) during your visit to customs. Ask your pharmacist to provide you with smaller labeled bottles if your usual bottles are too big to travel and use safe containers, especially if you are traveling with children. Take more than necessary in case you are detained.

Sharon Carlson, a nurse emergency specialist in San Diego, also recommends that people who take regular medications list the names of their usual medications, their dosage and their doctor’s contact information. “Fold this list and put it in your wallet or purse,” she says. That way, if anything happens, first responders will only have to use it to find out what medications you are taking.

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Medications for digestive problems

Do everything you can to avoid getting sick on a trip – and be prepared to handle problems such as motion sickness. According to Sharon Carlson, digestive problems are among the most common ailments on vacation. “Eating and drinking in places you’re not used to can sometimes cause travelers to experience diarrhea or stomach upset,” she says. Make sure you have antacids in your first aid kit for indigestion and heartburn, diarrhea medications, and rehydration products.


For Sharon Carlson, sunburns are also one of those risks to consider during the holidays that can have serious consequences for your health. “I always bring sunscreen and I recommend using an SPF of 15 or more,” she suggests. ¬†She likewise suggests sunglasses and a wide-overflowed cap for included protection. A soothing after-sun can also help if you have abused the sun.


Over-the-counter pain relievers will easily deal with minor pain – both acetaminophen and ibuprofen. However, be careful with codeine-based tablets: they are illegal in some countries. You may find that generic products are cheaper than brand name drugs, and they are just as effective. “I do not recommend one brand more than another,” says Sharon Carlson. I think they are for the most part essentially the equivalent.


You will need to cover minor cuts and scrapes with a bandage until they heal. In tropical climates, the slightest abrasion or cut can become infected very quickly. Provide a good variety of dressings as well as sterile gauze and small bandages. Tape dressing to keep a bandage in place can be helpful, and do not forget the scissors to cut the bandages.


Antiseptic products will be helpful in preventing small cuts and scrapes from getting infected. Use wipes to clean and sterilize a wound and ointment as a continuous treatment. If you are concerned that a wound is getting infected, consult a doctor promptly.


Many insects and stinging plants can trigger an allergic reaction. Take over-the-counter antihistamines in your first aid kit to control any internal or external skin reactions. If you drive or plan to taste some local alcohol, remember that some medications can cause drowsiness.


At best, mosquitoes are a nuisance; at worst, they carry dengue fever, West Nile disease, Zika or malaria. In addition to taking antimalarial drugs if you travel to countries where malaria is endemic, always use an appropriate repellent. The best way to avoid trouble is not to get stung. DEET products are available in different concentrations – a minimum of 50% is recommended for tropical destinations.

Tablets to purify water

If you are off the beaten track or visiting a country where water supply is scarce, take purification tablets or a purifying device such as LifeStraw in your first aid kit. The tablets can purify one liter of water at a time, but it can take about 30 minutes. Purification devices can often treat water instantly.